Juan Cole has no friends?

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Posted by Vincent ( on May 26, 2002 at 05:48:37:

In Reply to: Clarification posted by Bret on May 26, 2002 at 02:41:06:

I must say, this is not the most enlightened objection to his work that I have come across. In fact it is precisely the sort of attitude I meant to warn our young seeker about, though I suppose it would be unfair of me to blame an entire community for one person's eruptions.

You say Prof. Cole's colleagues are dismissive of his work. Which colleagues would those be--other professors of the Middle East? Or do you just mean, the group of Baha'is who write on the faith? I don't doubt that he has few friends among *that* group, and that your faith is all the poorer for it.

You can't understand church by reading the Bible, though it surely helps, and you can't understand Baha'i by reading the Baha'i bible. A lot of people have said that even after many visits, you have to join in order to really understand what the community is like, because the experience is different for insiders than for outsiders.

Some people (I can't say how many) join Baha'i because they admire its progressive social views, or because they like the community. Then once inside, they learn of another aspect which is more authoritarian. Not everyone is equal, there are councils which expel people from membership. You accept this as a part of what you see as God's revelation, but to most outsiders, it leaves a bad taste. Indeed, many Baha'is leave the faith because of it.

More on "covenant breaking." If a Lutheran becomes a Methodist, nobody thinks much of it. If a Mormon becomes a Methodist, the other Mormons will think that he is theologically wrong, but will likely respect his decision and remain friends with him anyway. But let a Baha'i from your lineage switch to another form of Baha'i (if he can find them), and you are then required to never speak to him again--even if he is your brother, or daughter. That, sir, is an inhuman teaching, and gives the lie to your claim to represent an improvement upon other religions such as Christianity.

You make it sound as though the goal of religion is to establish ever-larger empires, with ever-more-centralized state control. No wonder you respect institutions more than individual conscience, confident in your ability to bring about utopia through 5-year plans and 7-year plans. I note that Christianity went through a phase like this as well--can it be that you aspire to recreate the Dark Ages which you condemn?

Adding Baha'u'llah to Christ is not necessarily an improvement.

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